Patu suspended six weeks for biting, will miss Super W season

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

Incumbent Wallaroos captain Liz Patu will miss the remainder of the Super W season after being banned for six weeks for biting an opponent.

A contrite Patu, who pleaded guilty to the charge during an hour-long hearing at Ballymore on Monday night, issued a statement saying her actions were "unacceptable" and apologising to Rugby WA player Rebecca Clough.

While the entry point for a biting offence generally carries a minimum 12-week suspension, Patu received the maximum 50 per cent reduction available under World Rugby regulations given her previous clean record and good character.

The Queensland forward had 48 hours to appeal the decision but has accepted the panel's decision.


Liz Patu in action against Rugby WA before being cited for biting forward Rebecca Clough. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

"I'd like to express my remorse for my actions in Saturday's match," Patu said in a statement released by Rugby Australia.

"I apologise to Rebecca Clough, the Rugby WA women's team, my own teammates and the wider rugby public.

"I've played club, state and international rugby and previously haven't committed an act such as this and I accept my punishment.

"I want to reassure the rugby public, administration and my fellow players, that when I return to play I will ensure that the game is played in the right spirit and do what I can to promote the women's game in a positive manner.

"My actions the other night were unacceptable and will not be repeated.

Patu was cited after West Australian lock Rebecca Clough made the allegation against her international teammate late in the Super W clash between Queensland and Rugby WA at Suncorp Stadium, following a ruck deep in WA's attacking zone.West Australian forward Rebecca Clough holds her forearm after reporting a bite to referee Lara West. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

Clough complained to referee Lara West immediately after the incident, pointing to her own arm as proof but having not seen the incident, West was unable to act in the moment.

Replays of the incident suggested Patu would be in hot water though and she was cited by Rugby Australia on Sunday before pleading guilty at the disciplinary hearing.

Queensland Super W program head and Queensland Women's XV assistant coach Tyrell Barker said Patu, who was represented by Michael Dore of Fisher Dore Lawyers and Queensland Women's XV manager Felicity Bennetts, had expressed great remorse.

"Behaviour like this is unacceptable in our game and we support the suspension handed down by the judiciary," Barker said.

"As we continue to work to build the women's game, we need to ensure that players have a safe playing and training environment from the grassroots through to the elite level of the game.Liz Patu on the Queensland bench after an allegation of biting was made against her by Rugby WA opponent Rebecca Clough. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

"We also have a duty of care to the player in question. Liz has been a part of Queensland and national programs for a long time, and her actions on the weekend were out of character.

"We will work with Liz to ensure that when she returns to play, she will demonstrate the spirit of rugby and abide by the laws of the game."

The undefeated Queensland women take on Super W champions NSW at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday without their star front rower, who will miss the remainder of the season.